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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 22, 2020
Kelly Marryatt-Lacey of St. John’s, N.L. spent time during the COVID-19 lockdown cleaning and decluttering her house. It’s all she did for six weeks, she says.
“I was in this frenzy of having to clean, just like nesting when you’re pregnant,” says Marryatt-Lacey.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Julie Lewis was also decluttering and sorting through her Sassy Tuna art studio.
“It has taken me 18 years to amass everything,” she says. “As an artist, you need supplies, but as you have a lot going on, it's like a disaster if you don't mandate the time to sort it all.”
But what do you do with all the stuff you declutter? With so many so many stores and charity centres closed, and people urged to stay the blazes home during COVID-19, bags of donations amassed, as delutterers didn’t know what do with their treasures.
With gradual reopenings underway, this is the time to deal with those items.
Recycle or trash?
Both women say a lot went in the garbage or was recycled. Marryatt-Lacey says she cleaned some items, putting them in a garbage bag to donate when she could. She bought storage bins to reorganize what she was keeping, while Lewis used her label maker, started an inventory system, and colour-coded things.
When decluttering, residents should determine whether the item has another useful purpose, says Gerry Moore, chief executive officer for the Island Waste Management Corporation in P.E.I. For example, a set of bed sheets that are faded or getting thin can help provide comfort to an animal in a veterinary clinic or animal shelter, or perhaps they can be made into rags for a local mechanic shop. Outdated furniture may be the perfect fit for a young person in a new apartment or a 'make-do-for-now' for a newcomer, he suggests.
Items of value can be sold at thrift shops or made available to those in need at organizations such as Gifts from the Heart in Charlottetown, P.E.I, says Moore. Groups such as Marketplace on Facebook are great places to list items for sale or giveaway.
“Ideally, anything of value should be given a second life instead of being destined to landfill,” says Moore.
What about clothing?
In terms of clothing, a good place to start are the Diabetes donation bins, all of which are now reopened on the East Coast.
Sean Shannon, president and chief executive officer of the National Diabetes Trust, asks people to only donate textiles or clothing - which includes all types of clothing, accessories and bags, curtains, towels, blankets, sleeping bags, sheets and shoes. All items should be reusable, items that you could pass along to a friend or family member.
If items have holes or are beyond wearing, Reg Chitty, Value Village store manager in New Minas, N.S., says items can be donated there, as they will be repurposed into things like rags or car insulation.
If the diabetes bins are full or your item will not fit, Shannon urges people not to leave things on the ground beside them.
“When people dump garbage outside of donation bins, Diabetes Canada must remove the items at our own labour costs as well as transportation and landfill fee expenses. We estimate more than 250K is spent annually on garbage removal from bins across Canada,” he says.
When cleaning out pantries or medicine cabinets, keep in mind that although each specific agency has its own regulations and policies, for the most part, they do not accept opened products. Feed Nova Scotia or other foodbanks also do not accept or distribute any medications, whether over the counter or otherwise. These are best returned to any pharmacy for proper disposal.
“This is largely for safety reasons, but it’s also about providing people with a dignified experience when they reach out for support,” says Karen Theriault, director of development and communications for Feed Nova Scotia.
Put yourself in the shoes of those who are supported by the organization you’re looking to donate to, says Theriault. What food or donated items would you want to receive when you’re relying on that organization for nourishment and support at a time when things are extra tough?
Having said that, some women or homeless shelters will accept opened products, so phone ahead to ask.
In an effort to keep hazardous chemicals out of our landfills, the Nova Scotia government has banned electronics from garbage. According to the Valley Waste Resource Management website, electronics are recyclable through a network of drop off depots across the province. These networks can be found throughout Atlantic Canada by searching through recyclemyelectronics.ca.
Once collected and sorted, items are sent to recycling facilities for dismantling and the removal of any substances of concern. All other materials are separated into different streams to recover such parts as metals, plastics and glass so they can be processed into new products.
Alternatively, ink and toner cartridges, computers and monitors, desktop printers, batteries, computer peripherals and office machines can all be dropped at any Staples location, free of charge.
When decluttering, there is always a place for everything, so before tossing something into the garbage, Moore says, when in doubt, check it out.
Theriault agrees. Check for any published information around the organization’s donation guidelines and most needed items. If you can’t find anything on their social media pages or website, check with them directly.
By not checking first, and donating the wrong items, those organizations are often left with having to pay waste disposal fees to get rid of it themselves, placing a greater burden on many non-profits.
Decluttering makes a big difference. Properly disposing of items can make an even bigger one.
Unique ways to declutter
• Donate puzzles or larger print books to long-term care facilities
• Place books in a wee free library
• Host a swap party with your friends. This could be for accessories, books, previously opened products, etc.
• Take threadbare or stained blankets and towels to an animal shelter or vet clinic.
• Hold a yard sale or donate your items to a charity group who is having one.
• Post your free items on your personal Facebook page. One person’s junk is another’s treasure.
• Ask your local live amateur theatre if they can use any of your dated clothes for costumes, or items for props.
• Repurpose furniture, heirlooms or dishes by turning them into lamps, bird feeders or garden accessories.
Remember: Always phone the organization ahead of time to ensure they are accepting donations.
http://giftsfromtheheartinc.com/ Charlottetown, PEI
Staples Recycling: https://www.staplesbusinessadvantage.ca/recycling-programs/
Feed Nova Scotia donations: https://www.feednovascotia.ca/donate